Culture + Style

7 Ways to Be a Mistaken for a New Orleans Native

(Photo: Marc Dufresne/iStock)

No one wants to be branded a tourist as they walk around a city, so here’s an insider’s guide to blending in while in The Big Easy.

  1. How to tell whether it’s appropriate to wear Mardi Gras beads in public: If it’s not Mardi Gras season, it’s not. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than catching beads from a parade float. Buying them in a gift shop doesn’t compare.
  2. If a stranger on Bourbon Street walks up to you and bets he knows where you got your shoes, don’t take the bet! We guarantee his answer will be, “you got your shoes on your feet.” It’s a New Orleans-style gotcha.
  3. It’s not pronounced “N’Awlins.” It’s just not. It’s New OR-Lins. It’s also the neutral ground, not the median; the streetcar, not the trolley; and a dressed po’ boy is one with everything on it.
  4. Just because you can drink around the clock doesn’t mean you should. Real New Orleanians know how to employ moderation and thus stay in shape to party another day. The bar will be there tomorrow. In fact, the bar will be there at 7 a.m., because the bar never closes.
  5. Dare to leave the French Quarter and the Garden District. Sure, they’re New Orleans’ two loveliest and most historic ‘hoods. But there’s a whole, wide city out there to explore. Catch a cab, a streetcar or a bus and explore. Get a po’ boy from Parkway Bakery, see a concert at the legendary Tipitina’s, or rent a bike and pedal around City Park. (Check with a local friend or hotel concierge to be sure your plans are safe.)
  6. No parking on the dance floor. Whether you second-line, two-step or twerk it, the music is going to tell you to move your butt and you have to do what it says.
  7. Explore all of Jazz Fest. Yes, we know the headliners – Springsteen, Elton John – are huge. But if you don’t stray away from the big stages, you won’t truly get what the festival’s about, which is Louisiana heritage. Take a pew in the gospel tent or watch a local chef’s cooking demonstration in the grandstand — you won’t be sorry.